A classroom incident in which a teacher was allegedly attacked with a saw has led to renewed calls for swift action to support young people in crisis and protect teaching staff.
The New Zealand Principals’ Federation issued a statement following a violent episode at Mackenzie College in Fairlie, South Canterbury.
“I was deeply saddened to read the case of student violence at Mackenzie College this week, highlighting again the prevalence of violence in schools which places teachers, staff and other students in danger,” said Perry Rush, President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation (NZPF).
Rush has been calling for ministers and the Ministry of Education to step up and offer genuine, realistic support for traumatised young people in crisis so that they can undergo the specialised therapy they both deserve and need, for healing.
“I am sorry to say that the Mackenzie College incident, in which a teacher was attacked with a saw, is not an isolated incident,” said Rush.
An NZPF survey of principals last year recorded 680 separate instances of student violence in schools that had caused physical and psychological harm to teachers, staff and other students.
“This situation cannot continue,” said Rush. “As principals, we have an obligation under the Health & Safety in the Workplace Act to keep all staff and students safe when they are at school. When we are forced to enrol students who require specialised therapeutic help for violent episodes, and are not receiving that help. We cannot guarantee the safety of others. That is fundamentally wrong,” he said.
NZPF has been calling on Government to urgently act for over 15 months. The principals’ body says the system needs alternative options and greater resourcing. Rush added, “So far there is little indication that the Government is taking the issue seriously.”